Writing What You Know
Knowing what to write about is one of the biggest hurdles a new fiction writer faces. It can be daunting to develop a concept that is strong enough to get you 60,000 words (the average YA novel word count).
If you are in school or remember back to your time in school, the teachers generally provided you with a prompt when it was time to write. It gave you guidance-- a starting point. It made you feel safe!
Example: Write a first-person narrative about a time you overcame a difficult situation.
That's easy! Remember the time you were driving to work during that HUGE blizzard? And even though you knew you probably should have stayed home because the roads were complete crap, you went anyway because something in your gut told you to go. Remember, that was the night you got that promotion! Your superior finally realized how committed you were to your job-- And it was that pay raise that gave you the financial boost you needed to (insert anything here... buy a car, buy a house, have a baby).
See. Writing with a prompt, especially one that asks the writer about his/her/their own life, can feel easier than staring at a blank piece of paper. It's like giving your brain a road map which you can use to drive your story in the right direction.
But, wait-- I can already here you saying (or SHOUTING) at me. I'm not in school! I don't have any prompts! I'm driving down this highway alone and without headlights. Where the hell am I going?
And stop shouting. (Although, that is a fun technique).
Well, what if I told you that writing fiction is just like writing a first-person narrative. You can and should use personal experiences when you start writing fiction We all have those stories, the funny or dramatic anecdotes we tell at parties. Pick your favorite.
Now, I want you to #write that story. But, change the names. Change the places. Instead of a funny thing that happened to you and your mom, make it between you and a stranger you got stuck with in an elevator If you want to write Fantasy, is there a way to add some magic to your tale? Is it an elevator that takes you to the mysterious 13th floor where each door opens up to a new world? Or maybe it becomes a Mystery-- and you and the stranger on the elevator embark an a who-dun-it adventure!
Writing what you know can be one of the least stressful ways to begin a writing journey. It's your Google Maps, the voice that guides you to where you want to be.
So, what do you know?
(And if you still need a little prompting, check out R.A. Clarke's book of 52 writing prompts, Oh, That's Good... )